I am not an American, for I am an European. I don’t have to choose sides, because I don’t have sides, for I have rights and brains. This isn’t an article to praise someone or to victimize women, this is an article for freedom, for equal rights for women worldwide. It is a tribute to all the intelligent, successful, free and beautiful women, but also an alarm sign for mistreatment and abuse of women and children.
If Hillary Rodham Clinton chose as one of her policies the fight for human rights and especially women’s and children’s rights to be the front “of a smooth-talking neoliberal with the worst tendencies of a warrior-neoconservative” – it doesn’t really makes a difference, because mixing her political ways with her own beliefs has only created a new road for the feminist supporters, and if sometimes she couldn’t say her own opinions for example, she could agree with the civil partnership for same sex, but she couldn’t agree with same sex marriage yet, as a Secretary of State, but she agreed with it and sustained it later as a 2016 presidency candidate, this doesn’t blunt or cry down her merits in her battles for women’s rights, therefore Americans should be proud they have someone like Hillary recognized worldwide for her long-term fights for women’s and children’s rights and for LGBT rights, too.
Having a champion of women is a great step for America and if you look into the past, Americans always had champions for freedom, like Martin Luther King or Eleanor Roosevelt. That’s why women love Hillary Rodhan Clinton.
Here in Europe we have watched from a distance the political battles in the United States and also their fights on all battlegrounds around the world that have become international, in the search of the world’s domination and somewhere in the background, their struggle to maintain the world almost peace. When will Europe have such a fighter for women’s rights? Lady Diana, Princess of Wales is the best post modern example. Yulia Timoshenko, Ukraine’s former Prime Minister was a weak start, but Dalia Grybauskaite, the Lithunian President is a very promising ongoing.
The “Hillary Doctrine” is a term used to describe the agenda of former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. In particular, the Hillary Doctrine refers to talks given by Clinton arguing that women’s rights and violence against women should be considered issues of national security. The doctrine encompasses stances she has held before, during, and after her tenure as secretary.
In the 1990’s during the times when Hillary was the first lady, she was an inspiring feminist role model and she represented the change. Hillary was the First Lady, not a candidate herself yet, so she had no reason to sustain any political view or to build a road to a campaign, she spoke her own mind. And, it is her great achievement that became a great achievement to all women to speak their own minds and take their own decisions, also with the great support of men.
“Perhaps, the Clintons have somehow managed to convince half the sane world that they should be the natural recipients of African-American votes, despite everything they have done, when in power, to erode the economic security of African Americans and other minorities; the false hope raised during the 1990s was that the economic boom, itself a mirage as it turned out, would eventually lead to significant wage gains, but that never happened.
Poor and minority women and children were drastically hurt by the welfare bill the Clintons so enthusiastically pushed through congress, and likewise all the policies, from trade to student aid, they pursued in the name of fiscal responsibility, cutting the deficit and the debt, and playing by Wall Street’s tune.”
What we didn’t know that much was the struggle of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fights for women’s and children’s rights as a woman, a mother, a lawyer, a senator, a Secretary of State until , at least, I read “Hard Choices”.
In “Hard Choices” she spoke about the foreign policy issues she had to face during her being a Secretary of State, but also she stuck to the path to defend and make progress for women and children to have human rights all over the world.
She spoke of the nuclear danger coming from Iran and South Korea, she spoke of Libya and America’s role there, she spoke of the Arab Spring, she spoke of Egypt, Pakistan and Afganistan stringent issues and she spoke of China and the disident who wanted to go to America with his family, she spoke of Latin America and it’s issues and also on Africa, especially of the lack of women’s and children’s rights there and the need of world aid.
The most amazing story in “Hard Choices” was :”Burma -The lady and the generals” , the life of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was imprisoned and later convicted for home arrest for her political views for Burma to become a democracy. She tried to follow her father’s path, Aung San, was a former general who led Burma’s fight to independence from the British and Japanese only to be assassinated in 1947 by political rivals. Suun Kyi was first imprisoned in 1989 and she remained in house arrest ever since. Her husband was an Oxford professor and lived with their children there, for Suun Kyi refused to leave Burma, even to be with her family and later on her husband died without seeing her, for he was denied a visa to Burma by the government and Suu Kyi has never left her country. Now even try to imagine that kind of self-sacrifice for the love of your country.
”As Secretary of State, Clinton was not at liberty to address domestic political issues (such as same-sex marriage). On the international stage, however, and in keeping with the title of her memoir, Hard Choices, Clinton boldly asserted in Geneva in 2011: “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.” It was a groundbreaking moment. She also told the international community “being LGBT does not make you less human.”
I also took a step back in Hillary’s past:
“As a young woman, Hillary was active in young Republican groups and campaigned for Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater in 1964. She was inspired to work in public service after hearing a speech in Chicago by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and became a Democrat in 1968.
Rodham attended Wellesley College, where she was active in student politics and elected senior class president before graduating in 1969. She then attended Yale Law School, where she met Bill Clinton. Graduating with honors in 1973, she went on to enroll at Yale Child Study Center, where she took courses on children and medicine and completed one post-graduate year of study.
Clinton worked at various jobs during her summers as a college student. In 1971, she first came to Washington, D.C. to work on U.S. Senator Walter Mondale‘s sub-committee on migrant workers. In the summer of 1972, she worked in the western states for the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern.
In the spring of 1974, Rodham became a member of the presidential impeachment inquiry staff, advising the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives during the Watergate Scandal. (Chief Counsel Jerry Zeifman would later contend that he fired Clinton from the committee for what he deemed as unethical professional behavior connected to Nixon’s due process. These allegations have been contradicted by other media sources that deny Zeifman’s authority over the young attorney at this time, with no comment from Clinton herself.)
After President Richard M. Nixon resigned in August, she became a faculty member of the University of Arkansas Law School in Fayetteville, where her Yale Law School classmate and boyfriend Bill Clinton was teaching as well.
Hillary Rodham married Bill Clinton on October 11, 1975, at their home in Fayetteville. Before he proposed marriage, Clinton had secretly purchased a small house that she had remarked that she liked. When he proposed marriage to her and she accepted, he revealed that they owned the house. Their daughter, Chelsea Victoria, was born on February 27, 1980.
In 1976, Hillary worked on Jimmy Carter‘s successful campaign for president while husband Bill was elected attorney general. Bill Clinton was elected governor in 1978 at age 32, lost reelection in 1980, but came back to win in 1982, 1984, 1986 (when the term of office was expanded from two to four years) and 1990.
Hillary joined the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock and, in 1977, was appointed to part-time chairman of the Legal Services Corporation by President Carter. As first lady of the state for a dozen years (1979-1981, 1983-1992), she chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and served on the boards of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Arkansas Legal Services and the Children’s Defense Fund. She also served on the boards of TCBY and Wal-Mart.
In 1988 and 1991, The National Law Journal named her one of the 100 most powerful lawyers in America.”
Then, of course the times when Hillary was the US first lady during Bill Clinton’s presidency, the times when she was the first female New York senator and , when she was running against Barack Obama for the democratic representative for presidency in 2010, also the boldest period when Hillary was secretary of state during the Obama presidency.
“During Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, Hillary emerged as a dynamic and valued partner of her husband, and as president he named her to head the Task Force on National Health Reform (1993). The controversial commission produced a complicated plan which never came to the floor of either house. It was abandoned in September 1994.
In 1999, Clinton decided she would seek the U.S. Senate seat from New York held by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was retiring after four terms. Despite early problems and charges of carpetbagging, Clinton beat popular Republican Rick Lazio by a surprisingly wide margin: 55 percent to 43 percent. Clinton became the first wife of a president to seek and win public office and the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate from New York. She easily won reelection in November 2006.
In early 2007, Clinton announced her plans to strive for another first—to be the first female president. During the 2008 Democratic primaries, Senator Clinton conceded the nomination when it became apparent that nominee Barack Obama held a majority of the delegate vote. When Clinton suspended her campaign, she made a speech to her supporters. “Although we were not able to shatter that highest and hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you it has 18 million cracks in it,” she said, “and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time, and we are going to keep working to make it so, today keep with me and stand for me, we still have so much to do together, we made history, and lets make some more.”
Shortly after winning the U.S. presidential election, Obama nominated Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. She accepted the nomination and was officially approved as the 67th U.S. secretary of state by the Senate on January 21, 2009.
During her term, Clinton used her position to make women’s rights and human rights a central talking point of U.S. initiatives. She became one of the most traveled secretaries of state in American history, and promoted the use of social media to convey the country’s positions. She also led U.S. diplomatic efforts in connection to the Arab Spring and military intervention in Libya.
The State Department, under Clinton’s leadership, came under investigation after a deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others on September 11, 2012. An independent panel issued a report about the Benghazi attack, which found “systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies” at the State Department.”
So, Hillary Rodham Clinton had a fulminatory political career long before she became a First Lady and she was a women’s and children’s rights supporter long before that and she was just getting started and she started to become an icon for so many women, so it is normal that she had so many critics, but so many supporters also, meaning that she has been heard and she has been listen to.
I wanted to write this article from the moment I have heard Hillary’s Speech in Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women Secretariat where she spoke up for women rights: “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights”.
I said to myself, this woman has guts to speak up the fundamental discrepancy between women’s rights in a men’s world, in so many different ways and at so many different levels : the gender differences from birth in so many countries until the wage differences paid for women less than for men that are doing the same job with the same responsabilities and risks. And this was in 1995 when in Eastern European countries politicians and country leaders were occupied with economic, monetary and industrial transition issues, in order to have a glimpse on the European Union, women’s rights where something so far away , in a country which was trying to be reborn from the ashes of communism.
Hillary Clinton’s speech for 1995’s Beijing Conference written by Gertrude Mongella has broken so many barriers at the time, and Hillary was the First Lady, not a candidate herself yet, so she had no reason to sustain any political view or to build a road to a campaign, she spoke her own mind. And it is her great achievement that became a great achievement to all women to speak their own minds and take their own decisions, also with the great support of men.
She spoke of women’s basic rights : “focusing world attention on issues that
matter most in the lives of women and their families: access to
education, health care, jobs, and credit, the chance to enjoy basic
legal and human rights and participate fully in the political life of
“It is conferences like this that compel governments and peoples
everywhere to listen, look and face the world’s most pressing problems.”
“What we are learning around the world is that, if women are healthy and
educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence,
their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as
full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish.
And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish.
That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every
nation on our planet has a stake in the discussion that takes place
Over the past 25 years, I have worked persistently on issues relating to
women, children and families. Over the past two-and-a-half years, I have
had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing women in
my own country and around the world.
The great challenge of this conference is to give voice to women
everywhere whose experiences go unnoticed, whose words go unheard.
Women comprise more than half the world’s population. Women are 70t
percent of the world’s poor, and two-thirds of those who are not taught
to read and write.
Women are the primary caretakers for most of the world’s children and
elderly. Yet much of the work we do is not valued -not by economists,
not by historians, not by popular culture, not by government leaders.
Speaking to you today, I speak for them, just as each of us speaks for
women around the world who are denied the chance to go to school, or see
a doctor, or own property, or have a say about the direction of their
lives, simply because they are women.
The truth is that most women around the world work both inside and
outside the home, usually by necessity.
We also must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until
their human rights are respected and protected. ”
Since Beijing, while the UN itself has devoted more attention to the status and conditions of women and some progress has been made, there have also been alarming developments. Violence against women has become an undeniable and widespread universal reality, and speaking out against it no longer a taboo, as it once was. Everything from rape as a weapon of war to sex trafficking to female genital mutilation (FGM) are far better understood, acknowledged and addressed in public discourse and policy.
With Hillary Clinton declaring her candidacy for the Democratic nomination on a gender-inflected program, the distance traveled from Beijing is considerable. The possibility of having a woman with power in the White House who at least has a track record in women’s rights, and who could yet have the political commitment, is a historic opportunity.
Regarding the psychological empowerment effects Clinton’s presidential victory would have on women’s mindsets, one relevant study assessing Hillary Clinton’s effects on improving performance under the threat of being stereotyped provided empirical evidence that “what an individual believes about a successful role model might moderate the effectiveness of that role model in overcoming stereotype threat” (Taylor et. al., 2011). One goal of the experiment was to identify women whom the participants deemed as successful or unsuccessful and the perceived causes; study participants who accounted Clinton as successful declared that “they would want her on their team, and thought their worry would be reduced by knowing she was” (Taylor et. al., 2011). Moreover, those who considered her having deserved her success invoked internal aspects, such as her ability, performance and sustained efforts, while the others cited external factors, associating her with Bill Clinton. The experiment assessed the participants’ performance on a mathematics test after reading the biography of Hillary Clinton, a non-domain role model, the positive results being consistent with “a mechanism in which effective role models undo stereotype threat effects merely by showing that the group can «take care of itself»” (Taylor et. al., 2011). Thus, beyond the policies, bills and laws a female political representative might promote in order to effectively represent gender interests in elected office, effects can be seen on a psychological level as well, as political women serve as role models; also, the debate created around a new woman’s election or appointment equally contributes to the cause.
So, Hillary took the “road not taken” :
- Robert Frost
“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely—and the right to be heard.
Let — Let this conference be our — and the world’s — call to action. Let us heed that call so we can create a world in which every woman is treated with respect and dignity, every boy and girl is loved and cared for equally, and every family has the hope of a strong and stable future. That is the work before you. That is the work before all of us who have a vision of the world we want to see — for our children and our grandchildren.”